Viacom plans layoffs, to take $785M charge

Media giant Viacom Inc. announced a round of layoffs and restructuring that will result in it booking $785 million in special expenses in its recently ended quarter. A Viacom spokesman declined to say how many people would be laid off. The New York company said it will write down underperforming TV shows and abandon some shows that it bought, as well as make severance payments. Among shows creating the need for the accounting charge are reality programs such as "The Real World" that have lost value as reruns.

Service sector expansion cools, just a bit

U.S. service firms expanded at a slightly slower yet still healthy pace in March, an encouraging sign after multiple reports last week pointed to a slowing economy. The Institute for Supply Management said that its services index slipped to 56.5 last month, from 56.9 in February. Any reading over 50 indicates expansion. A measure of sales fell last month and dragged down the overall index. But gauges of hiring and orders rose, evidence that services firms may see solid growth in the coming months. The services figures come after a disappointing jobs report last week, which echoed a slew of other weak economic data this month. Employers added just 126,000 jobs in March, the fewest in 15 months.

Samsung expects drop in operating profit

Samsung Electronics Co. said its first-quarter operating income likely declined 31 percent over a year earlier. The company's earnings preview put its January-March operating profit at 5.9 trillion won ($5.4 billion). That was higher than analysts' consensus of 5.5 trillion won, according to financial data provider FactSet. Samsung estimated that its sales fell 12 percent to 47 trillion won ($43 billion) during the quarter. The company's operating profit was an improvement from the previous two quarters when its mobile business that accounts for two-thirds of Samsung's income suffered from a slowdown in sales.

Prosecutors seek stiff sentence in egg case

Federal prosecutors are asking a judge to consider the "widespread harm" done by a nationwide salmonella outbreak in sentencing two egg industry executives whose company was responsible. In court documents, prosecutors said Austin "Jack" DeCoster and his son Peter ran a company that for years "routinely disregarded food safety standards and practices." Prosecutors didn't ask for a specific term of jail, home confinement or probation. The DeCosters face up to a year in prison when sentenced next week. Both have pleaded guilty to introducing adulterated eggs into interstate commerce.

Feds look into carpet design of Nissan Versa

The government is investigating the Nissan Versa and Versa Note subcompact cars because the driver's foot can allegedly get caught in the trim panel that holds the carpet. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been looking into the issue since last June. This week, the agency said it is no longer looking at 2012 and 2013 models of the Versa, which don't have the same trim panel design. But it's still investigating 360,000 cars from the 2014 and 2015 model years. NHTSA has received at least one report of a crash in which the trim panel allegedly delayed the driver's ability to apply the brakes. The driver sustained minor injuries.

Official death toll in GM case is up to 80

Eighty deaths have been caused by General Motors' defective ignition switches, three more than reported the prior week, according to the weekly update by the compensation fund determining eligibility of victims' claims. Another 1,246 cases remain under review out of the 4,342 filed since the fund was created last August. About 28 percent have been deemed ineligible either because there was insufficient documentation or the claimants failed to prove that the ignition switch was the primary cause of someone's injury or death. The claims arose from General Motors' recall of about 2.5 million small cars, mostly Chevrolet Cobalts and Saturn Ions, from the 2003 through 2007 model years.

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